If you’re like me, you hate the act of running but you like the feeling of having run. After a run, I feel sweaty and tired and like I did something good for myself. After all, if I’m being chased by an angry white supremacist or (less dramatically) if I want to catch a bus, I want to be able to burst into a run without immediately hurting myself.
Here are 5 strategies I’ve used to make my runs more fun. Maybe they’ll work for you too!
Get a dog. Nothing is more motivating than a dog who likes to run. I don’t like to run, but I do like to run my darling Elephant Dog. I mean, how can I ignore those pleading eyes? Number 1 benefit: you can stop whenever your dog “needs to pee” (aka, you’re tired).
Timed intervals. If you’re new to running, this can mean a run/walk interval. If you’re more advanced, this can be a sprint/run interval. Deciding on doable interval lengths before your run can leave you feeling more energized than simply going out for a run, getting tired, and hating life. Giving yourself permission to walk or to simply slow down at regular intervals can help your body stay stronger for longer, so you might be able to cover more distance than you could clinging to a steady pace.
Run to the beat. Pick a playlist with upbeat music and try to match your steps to the beat. It’s like dancing. In a straight line. Without all that extraneous hip and arm movement. Since I don’t run often enough to run for long periods of time, I like to alternate running/walking songs.
Use a mantra. I stole this idea from a Runner’s World article I read several years ago. I find this to be really helpful when I want to give up. I time my mantras to my breath: “I am strong,” I think as I breathe in. “I am loose,” I think as I breathe out. It’s also great for relieving stress if you find you can’t quiet your mind.
Imagine a finish line. When I want to increase the amount of time I’m actually running during one of my run/walks, I push into the edges of my comfort level. I run until I start to get tired, then I imagine that some object in the distance (like a fire hydrant or a sign) is a finish line. I don’t stop running until I cross that line. Each imaginary line I cross feels like a real victory, which can be very empowering. Then I let myself recover until I’m ready to do it all again.
The good thing about running is that (unlike weightlifting) you can do it almost anywhere — all you need is a pair of durable running shoes and a safe space. If you don’t have a safe place to run outside and you don’t have access to a treadmill, consider putting your hands against a wall and running forward as if you could push the wall over. You don’t have to do that for long to feel a burn in your lungs, legs, and arms.
OK, those are my running ideas for today! I know there are more experienced runners out there — what do you guys do to make running more fun? Let us know in the comments.
Thanks, as always, to Eduardo Espada for his amazing art!